When economic crisis hits, manage brands more efficiently

Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 7, 2008

ITS OFFICIAL – THE US economy is in a recession. Asia, including the Philippines, is not expected to be insulated from this and as belts tighten, companies have to be smarter in how they spend on marketing.

Sage businessmen know that where there are threats, there should be new possibilities. And in times of crisis, the best tool is not to hold back entirely but to manage budgets very well to rise up to the opportunities. This includes using marketing resources wisely and efficiently to ascertain that one’s brand of product and service remains foremost in the consumers’ minds and shopping list. Here are some of the ways to manage marketing resources efficiently specially in challenging times.

Choose your media format wisely

The cheapest form of media may not serve your marketing objective at all. Best to choose media that brings across a substantive message about your brand; a format that reaches a good portion of your market and allows for real visibility or your brand getting noticed by your target market.

Check out details of your media

You may be placing in television or radio programs that your market hardly watches or listens to; putting ads in publications that your potential consumers do not subscribe to or buy; sending out press releases that hardly merit space or air time; or even doing special events that your potential target market is not likely to participate in.

Find ways to cut production costs

Cutting production costs does not mean intentionally avoiding highly experienced print photographers or television production houses. Negotiate with a favored supplier. For example, lowering casting, producers and director fees; food and logistics costs can substantially reduce television production costs. Also, let your favored advertising agency know that being too detailed with production does not serve your communications objective but merely increases production cost. After all, reputable suppliers know their clients and are familiar with agency creative teams whose unwarranted attention to detail drags advertising production resulting in higher costs.

Production houses are threatened by TV station-produced commercials that do not exactly come at par with brand equity standards the way experienced and reputable commercial production houses do; but are nevertheless, far less expensive. Hands down, notable commercial production houses still produce far better advertising that contribute to building or maintaining brand image.

Strengthen value messages in your communications

Next to being the text capital of the world, the Philippines is known for Filipinos being foremost value shoppers beating a mix of affluent, emergent and not so rich countries like Singapore, Portugal, Germany, India, Austria, South Africa, Malaysia, Turkey and Italy. The finding was based on a 2008 Global Nielsen Consumer Report on Grocery Store Choice and Value for money conducted among 26,000 respondents worldwide.

Filipinos are not driven purely by price but are willing to pay a little more provided they perceive the benefit arising from product or service outweighing the retail price.

Herein rests the accountability of the marketer whose greatest challenge is to find the right value proposition to suit the target market. With the right message, a brand has less burden of placing too much working capital on costly media.

Leverage on human capital

Worldwide, companies are boosting their available human capital with third party brand consultants whose advantage is an outside-inside point of view; breadth and width of experience; and overall less cost on the company as consultants are retained on temporary or short-term retainer basis or as the need arises. After all, depending on the contract, the cost of retaining a consultant is less than the cost of a few primetime TV spots.

Check out your consultant’s background and intent

The company’s challenge is to pick the right consultant who understands the rudiments of marketing, brand building and management and is not a pure marketing communications person.

Research, research, research

Market research remains a tool that when used effectively can help the brand tremendously. As consumer behavior changes in response to new trends and economic developments in the macro-environment, marketers are wise to use this tool. While the tool is readily available for every company to use, the creative intuit to determine which of the findings from research can serve the brand right remains the accountability of the marketer.